Have you ever thought about how much trash your household produces? It can be alarming to realize how much you’re throwing away every day. Many families are turning toward a zero-waste lifestyle to help reduce the trash they produce — from paper waste to excess clothing.
Committing to living with zero waste isn’t always easy, but it can have big benefits. You’ll be helping the environment by keeping plastic and other pollutants out of landfills. You’ll also help your family live healthier lifestyles by enjoying more fresh, healthy food and cutting your spending on throwaway products. Try these seven zero-waste tips to help you get started today.
1. Start Small
Trying to cut out all waste in one shot isn’t likely to be effective. Your zero-waste journey is probably going to be much smoother if you take your time and make small steps. Starting small lets you focus on certain habits for long-term change. Your goal should be to make conscious choices to reduce your waste, rather than removing all wasteful habits at once.
2. Practice Saying No
You might be surprised how many things come into your life simply because it was easier to take it than refuse it. For example, your local grocery store is handing out free samples in plastic cups. You might end up throwing away several of the cups just while shopping for groceries.
Refusing the samples helps reduce the amount of waste you create and cuts down on the overall waste from the grocery store’s sample program.
3. Study Your Trash
Don’t worry, you don’t have to dig through your trash every day. Studying your trash can be as simple as keeping a notepad next to the trash can. Make a note about what you’re throwing away each day. This can be helpful for determining where you create the most waste.
Some families throw out a lot of plastic wrappers and bags. They may want to focus on using reusable storage bags or buying non-packaged groceries. Other families toss out a lot of food scraps. It might make sense for them to buy less food and start composting their scraps.
4. Swap Disposable for Reusable
One of the easiest tips for going zero waste is to make a few quick swaps to reusable products. Many of the disposable items in your home can probably be switched out with reusable options.
Some common switches include:
- Swapping paper towels with cloth napkins and kitchen towels.
- Going from liquid soaps in plastic bottles to bar soap or making your own soap and using glass dispensers.
- Purchasing items in sturdy reusable shopping bags and cutting out plastic grocery bags altogether.
- Getting a high-quality reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles.
For must-have kitchen and home items, invest in higher quality products that will last longer than less expensive counterparts. A high-quality coffee maker, for example, will likely cost much more than a bargain brand machine. However, the high-quality machine will also likely outlast the cheaper option. You’ll probably make more coffee at home and cut down on disposable cups from coffee shops. Be sure to have homeowners or renters insurance to help protect your high-quality investments.
5. Make a Zero-Waste Car Kit
Planning ahead is essential if you want to travel zero waste. Even if you’re commuting to work, it’s easy to pick up waste from the drive-thru, gas station or your office. Prepare to cut your refuse by making a zero-waste car kit before you hit the road. Be sure to include items like:
- Reusable straws
- A wooden or metal silverware set
- Cloth napkins
- A reusable water bottle or other drink container
- Reusable storage containers for leftovers
6. Try Composting
It could be shocking how much food waste you produce. The easiest way to cut out food waste from your lifestyle is composting. Composting turns your unused or spoiled food into organic matter than can be used to fertilize gardens. Setting up a composting system can be done in a few hours and makes an excellent weekend home project. There are even smaller composting systems designed for people who live in apartments.
If you decide to garden, you can use your compost to help grow your next crop of zero-waste foods like fruits, vegetables and herbs. Not a gardener? Ask around your neighborhood to see if your gardening neighbors could use some compost.
7. Cut Waste from Non-Physical Products
Eliminating waste from your food or clothing isn’t the only way to go waste-free. While you’re cutting waste from physical goods, take a look at areas where you might be wasting other things — like money. Your electric bill, for example, could be costing you more due to running the thermostat too high. By turning down the temperature in your home, you could save both money and energy.
You could also be wasting money on services, like paying for the wrong car insurance coverage. Check with your Wawanesa agent to see if your coverage makes sense for your current vehicle, or to find out if you qualify for any additional discounts.
Staying Motivated for a Zero-Waste Home and Car
Going zero waste might feel intimidating at first. Make your journey to living zero waste easier by starting with these simple tips. You’ll help reduce your everyday waste and make it easier to live a cleaner and healthier lifestyle.